Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker was literally reading out the PowerPoint slides? For how long were you actually able to focus on the content? Not very long, I suppose. Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the linear format of PowerPoint presentations. The tool I’m going to talk about this week might be a solution to many people’s problem.
This tool is relatively new and is called Prezi. It is an online software designed to help its user create interactive presentations. Instead of being placed on (often overcrowded) regular slides, presentations are built on canvas as big as their creator’s imagination. The user has the possibility to zoom in, zoom out and rotate the screen to show the audience a general view of the presentation or the details of it. If well organized, it really helps the audience to follow the speaker in his/her train of thoughts. What I find interesting about Prezi is that it invites its users to choose a metaphor around which the presentation is organized. They then choose a “path” according to which the different elements of the presentation will appear. Since it is hard to describe Prezi in a few words, I recommand you go on their website to look at an example of a presentation done with Prezi.
I think Prezi is an amazing tool to bring into a classroom. As a teacher, I could use it for almost any purpose! I could give a whole lesson with it, introduce grammar notions, conduct different activities, explain a project, etc. What is nice is that since I’m not really an artistic person, Prezi allows me to choose from pre-established canvas. I can also have access to a database of Prezi presentations that were done by other users to inspire me. It definitely makes your class more interesting and interactive because you can easily add images, videos and links to your presentation. Also, as opposed to PowerPoint slides, where each idea is interrupted each time you change the slide, I think the notion is easier to understand with Prezi because the metaphor you choose for your canvas help students understand the whole idea and how the different pieces of information are related together. The students also have a greater chance to retain the material presented since they can associate it with concrete images and a general picture or framework. In order for your Prezi presentation to work, your information has to be logically organized. However, as Scott Berkun said, it is important not to get too excited about the creative part of Prezi and to stay focus on the message you want to pass.
Also, I would definitely not be the only one to use it in the classroom. I would totally encourage the students to use it for a variety of activities and projects. Since they would have to choose a “path” to follow for their presentations, it would force them to organize their ideas and know their topic in depth. They would also create associations in their mind with the use of the metaphor in their Prezi presentation. There is also a great function for team project, which allows each student of a team to work from home on the same presentation in real time. Finally, Prezi offers a FREE version for students and teachers, which allows us to create private presentations, amongst other advantages.